Seattle radio host Ari Hoffman said a short-staffed Seattle Police Department is taking nearly 20 minutes to respond to high-priority calls as the Seattle City Council considers cutting another $5.4 million from the department’s budget.
Hoffman, during an appearance on “Fox & Friends,” warned that additional cuts to the budget, which has already been slashed by nearly $50 million, could increase priority 1 response times by police from 17 minutes to over 20.
“This summer, [police] were saying they couldn’t necessarily come because they were dealing with the riots and the autonomous zone,” the former city council candidate told Steve Doocy.
“I’ve had friends who told me that the police have told them they’re just not coming.”
The department did not meet its goal to respond quickly enough to 911 calls over the last seven months of 2020, KOMO News reported this week, as the acting police chief warned the city not to further cut the budget.
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Hoffman said that the Seattle Police Department lost 186 officers last year, offset by 51 officers who joined, bringing the department to its lowest deployable numbers since the 1990s, despite the drastic increase of the city’s population since that time.
“All the departments surrounding Seattle are fully staffed because they’ve transferred to those departments out of Seattle,” said Hoffman. “So, it’s not like they don’t want to be cops anymore, they just don’t want to be cops [in Seattle] anymore.”
Hoffman added that the lack of police presence has caused gun sales to surge in Washington, particularly among women, who are the largest buyers and new buyers of weapons in the state.
Last year, Carmen Best, the first Black police chief in Seattle’s history, left her post, saying on her way out that the city council’s police budget cuts had put her in a “position destined to fail,” according to a report.
Best, 55, announced her resignation on Aug 10, after the council made good on its promise to approve sweeping proposals that would slash the police department budget by $4 million and cut as many as 100 officers from the force.
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“I believe 100% that they were putting me in a position destined to fail. Cutting a police department that already had low staffing numbers, that was already struggling to keep up with the demand,” Best told NPR on Wednesday.
“How are we going to provide for adequate public safety in that environment?”
Fox News’ David Aaro contributed to this report.